The (once again) fantastic atmosphere at the John Smith stadium on Saturday demonstrated the importance of this game for Town. The win helped to ensure that everyone kept believing in Wagner’s style of football, thus continuing the unwavering support for the Terriers.
Picking up just 1 win from 8 games between 16 October and Saturday’s game against Bristol City, Town’s recent results didn’t make for good reading.
Although we have played well, and deserved more from some of those games – most notably Wigan and Blackburn- it has raised a number of issues and questions.
Firstly, playing three centre backs doesn’t work – or at least the three that started at Cardiff. It may have simply been down to lack of practice, although I doubt this, knowing Wagner’s eye for detail.
Was it then the combination of the 3 players? Or did it not suit our players and style? Whatever the issue, Wagner quickly recognised it and, the following game, it was scrapped.
Secondly, Stankovic isn’t ready for first team football. Although others could have the finger pointed at them for both Wigan goals, Stankovic was naïve in his defending when we conceded, as well as during other times in the match.
Encouragingly, he is he is very young for a centre back; I’m sure he’ll improve with age- but the championship can be a difficult place to learn your trade.
Another defensive matter is the inability to defend set pieces – a large percentage of the goals conceded this season have originated from a set piece, again highlighted on Saturday: an issue that needs to be addressed.
Finally, we need to address the apparent inability to take our chances – in our last 3 games (Wigan, Blackburn and Bristol, written before the Burton game), we’ve had 65 shots and scored only 4 goals.
Although this isn’t down to any particular individual, something needs to change if we want to remain in the playoff places.
So, a good, well deserved, win against Bristol City now sees us sitting pretty in 4; if we continue to hover around the playoffs come January, this will give Dean Hoyle a lot to think about: do we continue as we are, with a great set of players and not risk upsetting the apple cart? Or does he try address some of the frailties and bring in new players to really try to push for promotion?
In my opinion, with Joe Lolley returning in January, the only essential position needed is a striker – a different option to our current line-up. Not necessarily a 6’4” battering ram, but certainly someone who can make their presence felt whilst helping to chip in with some goals.
Saturday’s win was undoubtedly the boost we needed to reiterate belief in Wagner’s style. His reaction to the failed formation at the Cardiff game demonstrated his ability to respond to what goes on on the pitch, while still staying loyal to his philosophy.
And as we all know, Town aren’t ones to be held to ransom over fees and wages, so if the right players don’t become available in January, I’m sure most fans would be happy to stick with what we have and show unwavering support for the Terriers as they make the final push till the end of the season.
Mark Habergham is a 31-year-old Online Acquisition Manager at The Yorkshire Building Society.
Mark first fell in love with Town when his Dad took him to Leeds Road at the age of eight-years-old and has been a dedicated season ticket holder ever since.